2017 Team

2017 Team
Team with Dilcia's Family

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Don't Be Sad That It's Over, Be Happy That It Happened

What an emotional roller coaster we experienced today! The team headed out of the school grounds toward our new homes, but made a pit stop along the way to install our first bunk bed. The lady who received it had six people living in her one room home, including a baby and a special needs girl. She makes and sells tortillas and does laundry to earn money. She had one bed and blankets on the concrete floor for others. She was not home when we delivered the bunk bed, so we hope she was surprised and happy to find it when she returned.

The three house teams finished their designs, carried the new stoves inside, put the groceries in various places in the common room, and then locked the houses until 1:30. The family members kept trying to peek inside their homes, so it was tricky keeping them outside.

After lunch we had a little play time before heading back up the mountain side for the house blessing ceremony. Since we had traveled without a priest, Marta got us a priest, Fr. Gustavo, who was originally from Columbia. Juan liked that. He brought along an interpreter, a seminarian who was originally from Glenview, IL.

Fr. Gustavo did a general blessing of the group and had the seminarian read from the Bible. I handed the house keys to each home owner; they unlocked their doors and walked into her their homes. Each face told the whole story, as you can see from the photos. Fr. G blessed the houses and the crosses made by Jim Konz and signed by every missioner. The men who helped with the home design in each home put the cross on the wall for each family. Then the families had a chance to explore their homes to see the special touches the missioners had put into them. They loved all of them. Before leaving we took a photo that included all missioners and the family that belonged with each house. This group was “Standing in the Light” both literally and figuratively as they posed for photos in the hot Honduran sun and truly were standing in Christ’s light as missioners, using their hands and feet for Jesus.

We did our final junta shortly after returning to the compound. The last one is always the toughest one because we all know that it is now final. We had accomplished our goals – actually surpassed them. And though there were lots of tears, all missioners need to remember not to cry because it’s over, but to smile because it happened.

To end junta tonight I read a beautiful letter that Seivert had written for the missioners. Instead of explaining it, I have included it at the end of this blog. When I finished reading it, there were more tears and total silence.

Thanks to all for following our mission journey. You can follow our flight back home, or theirs actually, as I will remain behind to greet the Kuemper team on March 29. I have a special request for Pam Schmit – Will you please take a photo of the team coming up the ramp toward you at the Omaha airport tomorrow night and email or text it to me? I’ve never gotten to see the team from that direction because I’ve always been with them. I will definitely miss the greeting the team gets from all their families and friends upon their return. Give them an extra hug from me for their excellent work and meaningful mission work.


delivering the first bunk bed

creative designs

climbing the mountain to the home blessings

Karla enters her new home

hanging the cross

enjoying their new toys

groceries provided for each family

Cindy's family

Luis and Maria's family

Karla's family

signing home ownership papers

handing out gumballs

Lucas's purchase in Valle de Angeles

Sometimes I Feel So Small / No Danger in Forgetting

So this is your last night in Junta and more than likely most of you are just not ready to go home – not quite yet anyway – and I sense this in the messages you have been posting on the blog – this has gone too fast you are saying to yourself in that silent voice inside your head, way too fast. But, the reality is clear. Tonight at this moment you are sitting right here in Junta, in Honduras, immersed in the poverty of this beautiful land and its beautiful people, especially those little children, but at this time tomorrow night the reality is you will be in the United States and all that you have experienced for the past 10 days will be in the realm of memory. The only major question I want to ask all of you tonight is simple, ‘what will you do with this new memory?’ You see, this new memory, it’s not quite like all the other memories you have – it seems to be something totally different, doesn’t it, something you have never experienced and felt before, and how you begin to handle this new memory tonight, and quite honestly in the near and far future of your life, might signal a path for all of you.

In 2003, on de-boarding the plane in Omaha on our return from our mission that year, Charlotte Langel asked me how I liked it. I responded, “I loved it and hated it all at the same time - I truly, truly did Charlotte.” “A major contrast that I am sure would make sense sometime down the road. But certainly not now,” I said to Charlotte, “and possibly not anytime soon – I know it will take time for me to unravel everything seen, felt and experienced.” So here you are tonight in a similar frame of mind as was mine from so many years ago, some tears are probably already flowing, and I don’t have all the answers to the poverty of Honduras and life around the world for you young people sitting here in Junta tonight but I can only hope that your mission experience will help you continue to see yourself within the larger context of helping the poor, and not just in Central America. At that time in 2003, that contrast between our lives in the United States and theirs in the second poorest country in the western hemisphere caused me to appreciate and loathe, almost within the same thought, and can be quite confusing at times. See, you now understand, at least a little bit better,  there doesn’t seem to be the clear cut, black and white answers that we all like to secure ourselves within – a sort of safe place – a Personal Place that all of us can go to from time to time. That mission trip in 2003 caused me to break out just a little from within and made me face the world’s reality up close and personal, and maybe it will you as well – and I realized in that experience that it’s one thing to lecture in a class about the poor around the world, and it’s a totally revealing thing to see, touch, feel, and smell it. What a wake-up for me that year! In spite of all the hours, tapes, letters, pictures, and conversations with people who had gone on our mission trips prior, I wasn’t prepared – imagine that, Seivert not prepared for something. The poverty and yet the happiness in and on the faces of Hondurans is remarkable. It makes me think of what Steph Germann said on her return from the 2001 trip, when she said, ‘the danger, now that I am back home, within my own bedroom, clean sheets and soft pillow, my TV, my computer, my phone, my music, all the food I can eat, and all the clean water to drink, The Danger Seivert is that I will forget.’ I told her that night I didn’t think she would, as I never will either. I don’t know about you, but that’s the memory I was talking about in the beginning of this letter. Actually, that confusion of poverty and happiness all at the same time, only caused me to want to return, and return very soon - to keep the spirit I currently have burning for such causes alive and growing, not only within myself, but for others. And I hope, along with
my brother Francis, Carolyn, and Linda, that we cause you to keep a burning flame of love for those children alive in your hearts, minds, and actions in the future.
I sincerely want to personally thank each and every one of you students and chaperones for making this decision. It was a wonderful decision that many cannot make. To give so freely of yourself for others – Christianity in practice – being Catholic in truth – we are a Missionary Church after all. But then are not we all called to that same service in all that we do? You’ve probably learned some of life’s lessons real early here. I suspect that some of you have begun to change your viewpoint about the world and different people within it – and that’s good. I hope you will protect your memories of this mission with care. Let them teach and make you feel things you normally do not learn and sense. Cry if you want to but tell your story, don’t just put them off on the side – rather, let them out and give them a chance to make a difference in who you become, but also a difference in others lives as well. Let them flow throughout your thoughts and deeds each and every day from this moment on. No danger in forgetting. There is a Mother Teresa quote on the bottom of the ‘letterhead’ we use for Mission Honduras LeMars. It says, “Just Begin…One,One,One.” At this point, for all of you, I would add, now that this mission is complete,  ‘Continue, Continue, Continue…’

I can tell you this in printed words – maybe not in person – but I feel very special when I am in the presence of children in poverty- almost small. Almost like I am standing in the shadow of greatness – because they, children in poverty, have caused me to be everything I am today. Thus, I hope your relationships to the children and people of Honduras continues to grow and flourish in all the years to come. I know you have made a huge difference in their lives. How about you? Have they made a difference in Yours?

Take Care Everyone – Safe Travels Home – And Bless the Poor of the World


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Design on a Dime

First of all, none of Mrs. Schipper’s class, nor Mrs. Schipper, correctly guessed what Lucas bought at Valle de Angeles. You were not even close! And even though one of Mrs. Christoffel’s classes wants to know what it is, you’ll have to wait until the final night. Mrs. Christoffel’s other class, note our team mural picture. That is something we do every year, kind of like our mission team signature. We thank all of you for your prayers. We especially would like to thank the elementary students and Mrs. Nussbaum for the special way you are praying for us in the house outline each day. What a neat way to be ONE with us! If you read this on time, please note that we will be doing our house blessing ceremony at 1:30 Honduras time – 2:30 for you. If possible, you could pray in the house outline while we are praying inside each of the homes we built here in Honduras. Please let us know if you were able to do so.

After breakfast this morning, all student missioners and the adults assigned to each team headed for their respective houses to decorate all the rooms. They also took and assembled the bunk beds for each family. As you can see from the photos below, they had all kinds of creative ideas for their homes. They also enjoyed the chance to add their own unique style to their homes. They were supposed to be finished by noon but have asked for a chance to do more tomorrow. Since they are WAY ahead of schedule, we are allowing them to return to their homes.

In the meantime Linda worked on printing photos that will be placed in a photo album and presented to each family tomorrow. She also printed an 8 x 10 picture that she framed for the families to hang on the wall. Andi, Francis, Julio, and I drove to Walmart (Yes, they now have them in Tegucigalpa.) to purchase food for the families, thanks to a generous donation for that purpose. We bought two large carts of flour, sugar, salt, coffee, beans, cooking oil, spaghetti, vegetables, and more. We then purchased plastic plates, cups, silverware, curtains, and some small plastic chairs for the children. Everyone is anxious to surprise the families with their beautiful homes tomorrow.

In the afternoon various activities took place again. Some worked on constructing picnic tables. Others assembled the bunk beds to make sure everything fit together properly. They must be placed in each home in pieces because they won’t fit through the doors otherwise. Some missioners took the opportunity to do laundry at the pila, or play with the children. Final organization, packing, and distribution of products took place in the library.

The missioners are starting to realize that tomorrow is their final day in Honduras. Tears spring up here and there because the missioners have made quite a few friendships with both the Honduran children and adults and know they leave on Friday. However, they are also anxious to see their own families. I have a feeling that tomorrow is going to be a tough day for all as we go through our House Blessing ceremony with the three families in the afternoon.

We also have high hopes that the Dole container with our Then Feed Just One food will arrive tomorrow. It is due to arrive between 3:00 – 4:00. That will be too late for us to go to the Cerro de Plata Foundation, though. Thus, we hope to help unload the container by each carrying one box off the container. It would be a wonderful way to end our mission trip!

working on picnic tables

bunk bed crew

Girls' Dormitory

a birthday gift for Keyssy

distributing bracelets

decorating our homes

team mural

Honduran friends

some of the students who attend Santa Teresa

Final day for missioner blogs:

Hey mom and dad! This is my last chance to blog, and I wanted to say that I am excited to see you, but I am sad to leave this beautiful country. The people here are amazing, and I have made a lot of friends from Honduras. When you pick me up on Friday, I was wondering if you could bring me my antibiotic eye drops (Vigamox, I think?). Some sawdust flew into my eye, and I think it might have gotten infected. I would also like to request that you bring some dang good food. P.S. You might want to bring some air fresheners. – Sincerely, Yachmil, Ranger Rick, AA, AJ, Aht, Ats, Water Buffalo, Ox, Oxtsa, Kemosabi, Atze

Hey everyone, it’s Deven. Shopping on Sunday went very well. I got some dang good gifts for you all. How’s my car? Did you get the oil changed yet? Today I finally got to use a wrench, so that made my day. The last couple days we have been finishing up the houses and building bunk beds. We got to decorate the houses today. The kids here are so fun to play with. They are so happy to see us here. At the airport I would like to request some good food when we arrive, and you might want to bring a can of Febreze too. I have made a lot of friends down here and can’t wait to tell you about them. I can’t wait to be back and see you all.
PS. The kids had a little fun with Colin and I, and we will have a surprise for you and the Wises at the airport.

Hey family, it’s Jeremy and Brian. It’s been fun down here in Honduras. So far we have got to meet a lot of interesting people and hear their stories. We hope everything is doing good at home. Mark, you’re right, those 90 second showers are pretty awesome, even though the water is only on for about half of that. Dave and Janet, Pat and I haven’t killed each other yet. We’ve been working with each other quite well. It reminds me of old times. Sandy, how was loading hogs today?  I think this will be the last time that we blog. Can’t wait to see you Friday night. Love Jeremy and Brian <3 p="">

Hello Sage and Carla. It’s going very fast. The weather has been awesome. We finished last things inside houses tomorrow and turn them over. Getting ready to see your face again and back to normal. See ya soon. Love ya, Dad

Dear Neighbor Lady,
 Love, Pat

This is Madi. Hello family, I know you all miss me a lot. Don’t worry. I will be home soon. Don’t forget to pick me up. That would be great. Also, if you guys would want to bring me some Taco Johns with you, that would be fantastic as well. I miss all the kids and tell Brenna that I’m sorry I took down her fort. Tell her we can have a slumber party on Saturday and can rebuild it. You should also bring one of the kids down with you cuz I miss them a lot. Hey, I learned how to do my laundry by hand!! And by the way, I do know how to hammer in a nail. I also got a summer job working for Pat Jones. Mom, I think I got you plenty of vanilla btw.

Hi Haley, thanks for writing. I miss you too! I miss you Anna as well! Dog’s, I got a huge machete that I’m bringing back. It is sweet! I also got a fedora and it’s so cute! I love it here! The people are awesome, and I have some things I have to tell you guys. I miss you both and I get home soon. The showers are cold, but they are bearable. I met so many people here, and I can’t wait to tell you both when I get back! Love you both!  Madison

CADY MCCALLAN! How’s it going? How are the pots? Did any break? Make sure you look at the glazes cuz you have to help me pick out some good ones. I miss you a lot! You need to tell me all about the panic! concert and how awesome it was. Just so you know, Atze got an eye infection, or so he thinks, and so he’s been wearing an eye patch all day. It’s the funniest thing ever! I hope you are still having fun at school without us, and I know you might be boring, but we will be there soon! Make sure you keep the boys annoyed while I’m gone.

Carter and Sebastian, hey guys. I have come to the understanding that you guys are not going to send me a comment on here so I guess I will just write to you any way, even though people told me I shouldn’t because neither one of you have said a word. I miss you guys, and I will see you on Tuesday.  How’s the musical going? I bet it’s really boring because I’m not there. I have some stories to tell you guys, and I will try and make a Hy-vee visit before Tuesday.
I will see you all after Friday.  Love, Madi

Hey Julie and Addi, glad to hear things are going well.  Looking forward to seeing everyone soon.  Hoping I have a few football helmets awaiting my arrival.  I’m quite certain that I do not have an addiction.  Jeremy and I are getting along quite well for both being half Sauer.  We are about finished with our work here and are hoping the container with the “Then Feed Just One” food arrives tomorrow. 
See you Friday.  Love, Patrick Jones

Hi Mom, glad to know every thing’s good at home. We’re starting to pack up our things to give away to some of the kids, and it’s making me sad. I’m not ready to leave them yet, and it’s going to be weird not getting a big hug from every small child back home. I can’t wait to see you and the new kitties though, and my bed. See you soon. Love, Reanna
P.S. Brooke says hi, and to bring pizza to the airport. P.P.S.  Hi Gabby and Cady. I love the messages. They make me smile. Miss and love you guys. See you soon. Love, Reanna

Hello to all the Bickford family
Mya, Drew, and Cayden, I hope you are all feeling better now. Mya, thanks for your videos. They made me smile. Ali - don't get sick. Marshall, you need to drink less soda. Paige, thanks for the picture of my house, but I miss you more than my house. Jay, thanks for helping out with whatever needed to be done with my ticket. I'm so glad to be coming home on March 31 because I miss everyone a LOT. Miranda, I'm guessing you are getting lots of subbing time in if everyone has sick kids like Drew and Ali. Don't forget to move into my house on Friday night, Drew. Pakka and Angel will enjoy your company. I love YOU, everyone!  Love, Mom/Grandma